Words by Rebecca Parsons
Alaska is a standup paddler's paradise. Albeit not in the usual sense. White sand beaches and turquoise waters may be the stuff of postcards, but the Last Frontier offers endless miles of empty water set against breathtaking backdrops. In Alaska, you have the opportunity to paddle amongst glaciers, icebergs, fjords, waterfalls and rainforests in the company of sea lions, seals, sea otters, humpback whales, orcas, bears and even moose. The only tradeoff to paddling the stunning glacier-fed waters is that you'll have to acquire some thicker neoprene.
While navigating the frigid waters alone may sound intimidating, there are a number of tour companies that will help plan your adventure. We've rounded up five options that will help make your cold-water paddling dreams a reality. –RP
Alaska Wilderness Charters offers an all-inclusive, eight-day SUP expedition down the rugged coast of southeast Alaska. Guests stay aboard The Glacier Bear, a 95-foot motor yacht, as they travel to remote SUP destinations. Each day features a unique itinerary with the opportunity to hike, paddle, surf, kayak, whale watch or practice yoga in remote locations.
Along the route, guests will have the opportunity to view fjords, glaciers, icebergs, waterfalls, rainforests, waterfalls and wildlife such as eagles, bears and whales. Trips begin and end in Juneau and favorite destinations along the way include Endicott Arm, Ford's Terror and Red Bluff Bay. Both mixed trips and women's only trips are available and run in late June and early July. In addition to SUP, AK Wilderness Charters offers fishing, kayaking, photography and family tours.
Adventure Guru's guided SUP tours take place on Kenai Lake and the surrounding area against a backdrop of hanging glaciers, cascading waterfalls, and grassy meadows and streams.
Easy and moderate tours are offered on the glacier-fed lake, while advanced river tours take place on the Kenai River, and a full-day "Source to Sea" tour navigates the entire length of the river. The experienced guides are Alaska Boat Safety and SUP certified, wilderness first aid certified, and carry a first aid kit and communication device to ensure participant safety from start to finish.
Liquid Adventures is located in the heart of Seward and offers a variety of SUP tours from May to September. Tours take place at their home in Seward, Aialik Bay and Bear Glacier.
Of their many tours, the Bear Glacier is consistently the most popular. Participants are shuttled into Kenai Fjords National Park via helicopter or water taxi where they have the opportunity to downwind paddle from the face of a huge tidewater glacier. In addition to SUP, Liquid Adventures offers a variety of kayaking tours, including multi-day camping trips.
Ocean Swell Ventures is your one-stop shop when it comes to the ultimate SUP adventure. Run by a team of surfers and standup paddlers, the folks at Ocean Swell Ventures want to help make your vision for an epic SUP trip a reality. Expeditions take place aboard the M/V Milo and include food, park fees, water toys, and use of an inflatable launch.
Popular destinations include Kachemak Bay, Kenai Fjords, Augustine Island, Big Foot Coast, and Kodiak but trips are fully customizable depending on your schedule and the weather. In addition to SUP, guests can kayak, surf, hike, bike, ski, or simply take photos and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
At Unravel, they do things a bit differently. Based in Anchorage, they offer weekly trainings/meetups for locals, strength clinics, girls/women's retreats, corporate retreats, and instructor trainings for those looking to start a practice of their own or further their skill set. Owner, Sami Glascott, is a Paddle Into Fitness and World Paddle Association Master Trainer, and prioritizes safety in all of her trainings and workshops so that paddlers can feel confident in the sometimes-trying Alaskan conditions. In addition to SUP, Unravel offers yoga, meditation, and wellness classes so you can cap off your SUP expedition with a calming and rejuvenating practice.